Lichen on trees opposite.

Happy March! We're just 20 days away from spring! Ah, the warmer weather will soon be with us. It started off sunny and cold (about 3 or 4 degrees), now it's clouded over but it's up to 8 °C. The garden is slowly beginning to wake up: 

Spiraea buds (taken a week ago).
Afraid I can't remember the name of this shrub, but as you can see it has new buds too!
Daffodils: left, taken a week ago, right taken this morning.
Collared doves that spent an entire morning chasing each other (taken a few days ago).

And March has brought some good news: the Protection Zone Order which has kept the chickens locked up since the beginning of December has been lifted in our area with "a more targeted approach" instead: there are still areas deemed 'high risk', and those areas have to continue to keep their chickens away from wild birds. We fall about 30 or so miles outside a high risk zone so we're going to let them out but continue to feed them indoors and keep up the biosecurity measures. Aside from that all chickens are well!

Agnes (left) and Meg (right).
Florence (with Agnes behind, left) and Ruby (with Agnes in front, right).

This month is set to be a busy one, so any reading plans I have is highly tentative! This month I'll be planting potatoes (Charlottes: 2nd earlies, and Pink Fir Apples: main), onions (turbo), and garlic, and do this I'll have to clear the vegetable patch of weeds. We're also in the middle of spring cleaning and decorating: I've finished the bedroom (painted pale blue now and with two new bookcases: this explains my brief absence last week), and this month we're hoping to do the bedroom, fix a fence, and hopefully another room. Nevertheless, I still have some plans aside from DIY!

The first thing I want to say I've had to reconsider two of my 2017 Challenges. Firstly, I've decided to leave the Lord of the Rings read-along for now, I'm not in a Tolkien frame of mind at present. Also, regarding the Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge, I've decided first to leave it 'til summer to focus on it, and secondly be a bit more random at picking my titles as opposed to spending the year focusing on the 4th Century B.C. I find Plato and Aristotle incredibly difficult, so I'd like to mix that up a little with other works. Also I really fancy reading St. Augustine very soon and that's right at the end of the challenge! What I want to do at the moment is focus on my Classic Club list. I find I now have 33 novels and 36 plays left (I tend to mark titles off when I've blogged about them as opposed to just read them, which is why those numbers don't look as though they add up) and as I, on the whole, tend to read two novels and two plays a week I may finish it this summer (my list is dominated by short works such as plays, so it's not quite as daunting as it looks). That said, there's still some pretty hefty titles left so we'll see. I'd like to finish it at some point in the summer or early autumn.

Nevertheless there is one final challenge I've joined (I can't help myself!). It's Jean's Reading All Around the World and though I won't be focusing on this either til probably the autumn I will be able to join in a little. My reading, you may have noticed, is largely English literature with a smidgen of Western Europe so I thought this would be a good idea to extend my boundaries. Because I am very limited in what I read I can see this challenge taking many many years to finish, particularly as I'd prefer a casual approach. For now I'd like to read literature from 50 different countries, and I imagine that alone will take several years. Jean said, "You do not have to plan your list ahead of time; I would advise you not to". I agree, but: I did find some titles I am interested in or plan on reading anyway (though I may well not: I've no intention of sticking to this list necessarily) and, in case this helps anyone else who is participating, I'll share the list:
  1. Algeria: The Golden Ass by Apuleius, or St. Augustine of Hippo
  2. America: East of Eden John Steinbeck
  3. Antarctica (not a country, I know!): The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
  4. Austria: The Confusions of Young Törless by Robert Musil
  5. China: Six Yuan Plays edited by Liu Jung-en
  6. Czech Republic: The Cowards by Josef Škvorecký
  7. Denmark: Hans Christian Andersen
  8. Dominica: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  9. Egypt: Story of Sinuhe
  10. Finland: The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot 
  11. Georgia: The Knight in the Panther's Skin
  12. Iceland: Orkneyinga Saga
  13. India: Rabindranath Tagore
  14. Iran: Vis and Ramin by Fakhruddin As'ad Gurgani
  15. Iraq: Epic of Gilgamesh
  16. Italy: Dante
  17. Japan: Narrow Road by Basho
  18. Libya: Callimachus
  19. Nigeria: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  20. Northern Ireland: The Beaux Stratagem by George Farquhar
  21. North Korea: Cho Ki-chon
  22. Norway: Henrik Ibsen
  23. Palestine: The Secret History by Procopius
  24. PortugalThe Lusiads by Luis Vaz de Camões
  25. Scotland: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks or Self-Help by Samuel Smiles
  26. Spain: Miau by Benito Pérez Galdós
  27. Sweden: Strindberg
  28. Swiss: The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
  29. Syria: St. Matthew (Gospel)
  30. Turkey: Arrian by Lucian of Samosata
  31. Wales: The Welsh Fairy Book by William Jenkyn Thomas
Russia's not on the list because I have On the Eve to add later this week, and England's not on either because as I say I won't have a problem with English literature. As for the rest: I don't think I'll struggle with Western Europe, nor am I too daunted by the Middle East - when I've read English Medieval works many of them have been inspired by Middle Eastern works so we have much in common, and more shared stories than we perhaps realise. The rest, however, will be a great challenge indeed I'm afraid! Hopefully though I can get past my ignorance. For now, my progress page is here.

And that's the end of my pontifications on long-term challenges! As for March, I'm being fairly tentative: I started reading The Cowards, which I'm enjoying, and I'd also like to revisit a few Shakespeares and Thérèse Raquin, as well as make a start on Le Morte D'Arthur. Can't be too firm, though - there's much to do this month!

Happy March, everyone! And to finish, the new bookcases complete with rainbows (the sun is out again!).

And a bonus rainbow!


  1. Best of luck with your reading! I've seen at least three people target Antarctica...a strange, but interesting development. :)

    1. I know, but I didn't want to miss it - I knew I could find an old travelogue I'd like to read! :)

  2. Whew, you do have a busy month planned!

    Your room looks lovely with that shade of blue and all the little rainbows (and the bookshelves, of course).

    I'm also glad to see that the hens have a little more freedom now and none of them got sick!

    1. Thank you! And yes, pretty busy. Bathroom work starts tomorrow and already met with potential trickiness...

      And the rainbows - I love them, I have a prism hanging from the other window (not in the pic), a small mirror ball and a few other light catching things just to get rainbows :)

  3. adventurous reading ahead! i noticed that i've read a lot of those countries you listed, but not necessarily the same books; for instance, i've read a number of books about antarctica, but not the Gararrd... just Shackleton, Amundsen, and other explorers... there are a lot of works on the Arctic also, Mathew Henson, Peary, et alia... reading books from every country, as Jean proposes to do, would indeed be a real challenge; i don't think some of the very small countries have books, although i'm not sure about that...

    1. I'll check out those names you suggested - it all depends on what I can get hold of, so I'm grateful for the suggestions to give me some alternatives :)

      I think someone did manage to read a book for every country, I read about it last year. I looked at her list, I think it was mostly modern and I prefer the old stuff. I may have to give way though sometimes, I think. Not sure... It's not just about finding interesting titles but also actually *getting* the books! I think this challenge may take me a good decade. I dare say I'll manage 50 or so with (relative) ease (but still take a while) but I'll struggle with many others. But I'll try! :)

  4. Your room is lovely! I painted my bedroom that color. So soothing. :)

    1. It is! I love the colour (it's called 'pale duck egg'). Soothing, and has warmth to it. Looks lovely now, but in the sunshine it's fantastic :D

      (Nice to hear from you, by the way!)

  5. Wow, what a fun post! Your weather sounds similar to ours if you take out our days of snow! Ah, you're inspiring me to renovate, or at least paint. We have had some crocuses up here, popping up through the snow, but otherwise our plants are still asleep. I hope to see them budding soon. And thank you SOOOO MUCH, for the list ..... that will be extremely helpful to me to hit some of the countries. I can't wait to get started, however I just wish I had more time. Probably the wish of all of us. Have a great March!! :-)

    1. Glad the list helped! I've found two things that helps. 1) This catalogue (a pdf) from Oxford World Classics and 2) checking out unfamiliar authors and titles in the backs of some of my books. Also, this sounds odd, I thought perhaps it would be helpful to look up certain books on Amazon, then hopefully, as a result, their suggestions might lead me somewhere :)

      On a different note - that catalogue from OUP has said there's quite a few new translations of Zola coming out, including The Sin of Abbé Mouret which I'm so excited for - I've waited years for a decent translation! :D

  6. Your newly done room is lovely! I'm glad you're joining up and you have a great list, which I shall probably consult, because I too do not prefer the moderns. :)

    1. Thank you! I'm wondering how much I can stick to the classics for this challenge, but I'll give it a damn good shot!

  7. The World challenge sounds consuming yet lots of fun. We are now going into autumn here. Australians celebrate seasonal changes on the first of the month . So technically it is autumn though I refuse to acknowledge seasonal changes until the equinox and solstices. Then they complain the early days of month do not seem like the season they believe they are in. Is it any wonder? Weird. I will look forward to following your progress. I am seeking out more translated fiction and find I do enjoy it a great deal. Say hello to the chickens for me. Glad they are freer now. (Travellin Penguin)

    1. Over here from time to time people do class the first day of the seasonal month the new season. I'm the same as you, it doesn't count! :)

      And yes, the chickens are very happy indeed. The mess they've made of the garden though in these few days.... nearly all the grass is gone! Sigh. :)


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